Friday, 23 March 2012

The Hampshire Illustrated Book Award

As mentioned in an earlier post, last year’s Hampshire Illustrated Book Award was won by my picture book The Santa Trap and I went down to Hampshire last week to receive the award.

I left a fog-shrouded Nottingham at the crack of dawn and, after a four-hour train journey, emerged blinking into the Hampshire sunshine in time for a pleasant lunch with the awards organisers, Kathryn, Hannah and Emma, from Hampshire’s Schools Library Service.

The award is for the best picture book for older readers as voted for by Year 5 pupils in Hampshire schools. The presentation was held at Ringwood Junior School and in addition to Ringwood’s Year 5 pupils, children from several other schools were also in attendance, as was my editor, Emily Ford, who had torn herself away from Macmillan’s frantic final preparations for the Bologna book fair.

The award came in the form of a piece of engraved glass, which looked like it had been plucked from Superman’s crystalline Fortress of Solitude. After being presented with the award, I explained how the story had been partly inspired by the real Santa traps I had built as a child.

After reading the book, I sprung a surprise on the audience by showing them a video message from the book’s illustrator, Poly Bernatene. Poly was unable to attend the presentation as he lives in Argentina, but had sent me the video message to say “Thank you” for the award. The video turned out to be an even bigger surprise than I’d anticipated as, until that point, nearly everyone attending had been under the impression that Poly was a woman (as his name is so similar to the English girl’s name “Polly”). However the video showed otherwise and got a big round of applause.

I’d like to say a huge “THANK YOU!” to all the children who voted for the book and to the School Library Service for organising the award and looking after me so well on the day.

It’s a huge shame that picture books and other illustrated books are often regarded as being for young children only — especially when there are talented illustrators like Poly producing such fabulous artwork. So it’s great that Hampshire has this award to recognise their wider appeal.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Princess and the Pig US award nominations

Book award nominations keep on coming from both sides of the Atlantic at the moment.

The Princess and the Pig, illustrated by Poly Bernatene, was shortlisted for the Fiction Picture Book category of the  CYBILS Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Award a couple of months ago.  The winners are selected by a panel of US book-bloggers and the category was eventually won by Me … Jane by Patrick McDonnell last month.

And I'm delighted to announce that The Princess and the Pig has also been shortlisted for the Picture Book category of the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award 2012-2013, which is voted for by more than 60,000 school children in the US state.  I have to confess that I didn't know what a "Black-Eyed Susan" was, but a quick google revealed that it is the perennial daisy that is the state flower of Maryland.  The winner of the award will be announced in May 2013.

Monday, 5 March 2012

SOMEONE BIGGER tops my UK library loans chart again

For the seventh year running my kite-flying picture book Someone Bigger was my most borrowed book from UK libraries last year. However the huge lead it previously had over my other books dwindled from around 10,000 to a mere 1,458 loans.

My five most borrowed books are shown below.

Book Title NÂș of Loans
Someone Bigger 18,600
Bringing Down the Moon 17,142
Diamond in the Snow 12,399
I Love You Always and Forever 11,753
Pigs Might Fly 11,471

After dropping a few places the previous year, I've crept back up the Most Borrowed Authors Chart to a giddy 192nd place.  The most borrowed author was US crime writer James Patterson, with children's "author" Daisy Meadows in second place.  "Daisy Meadows" is the pseudonym used by a collection of authors who write the Rainbow Magic series, so the highest ranking individual children's authors were Jacqueline Wilson and Francesca Simon, who took fourth and fifth place behind US romantic novelist Nora Roberts.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Pig’s Knickers shortlisted for Rotherham Award

Following on from my last post, I’ve just been told that The Pig’s Knickers has been shortlisted in the picture book category for this year’s Rotherham Children’s Book Awards. It’s another award that’s voted for by school children and Rotherham is practically next door to Sheffield, so I’m hoping the kids there have a similar taste in books. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Magna Science Adventure Centre on 20th June.

While I’m on the subject of The Pig’s Knickers,  Vanessa Cabban, the book’s illustrator, has just produced a couple of activity sheets based on the book. You can find a pdf of them on the book’s page of my web site or you can click here to download them.